Our daughter’s relationship with our donor

On the weekend we went to our donor’s youngest daughter’s first birthday party. We knew that by choosing a close friend as a sperm donor we’d need to be OK with seeing a lot of each other; there was always a risk that once our baby was born we’d feel awkward about it and it would have a negative impact on our friendship. But we certainly didn’t anticipate that having him as our donor would make us closer as friends, and would see us spending more time together as families. I think this is a sign that our donor arrangement has gone really well.

At this birthday party, our donor took the time to play with Avery. He really engaged with her. It made me contemplate all the fears and trepidation we had while we worked out our donor contract. I used to worry a lot about people (either our donor, society, or even Avery herself) seeing him as a “father figure.”

But now, after watching them interact and knowing from the past 18 months of experience that there’s no awkwardness or selfish intentions, I want to see their relationship grow.

I feel a desire to be crystal clear about language here, though. We still don’t see him as a father figure, and we still don’t refer to him as a “biological father”. I don’t think he would, either. We refer to him as our donor, and we describe his role as the person who donated sperm to us so WE (my wife and I) could have a baby. Any special relationship that blossoms between them doesn’t have to change that language.

But a blossoming relationship seems kind of nice to me now, whereas before it was a bit terrifying. I like the idea of him caring about her. I like the idea of her knowing, and hopefully even liking, the person who contributed to her genetic makeup. She can look for bits and pieces of herself in him, if she chooses to. (She can also look for parts of herself in my wife, because genetics only takes you so far in making you who you are). I like that if she has questions about her genetic heritage, she can just call him up and ask.

This comfort with, and even preference for, a relationship between our daughter and her donor has taken me by surprise. I guess there’s really no way to predict what your kid’s relationship will look like with a known donor, or donor-siblings. I’m so thankful that ours seems to be better than we expected, when it could have gone the other way almost just as easily.

12 thoughts on “Our daughter’s relationship with our donor

  1. Thank you for normalizing the anxieties, for talking about why knowing one’s history is good for people, and that you are (so others can too) successfully making it all work. This is important in adoption and foster care also; a swampland of issues and worries for the adults but knowledge available for the child(ren). Families happen in many ways and some look different from others; but like with blue versus brown eyes the outward appearance is not the important issue.
    You write so well and make it look easy….Thank you. And thank you for making this a better world for the future!

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  2. I also feel sooo differently about our/our kid’s relationship with our KD. I thought that the fact that he lives in Germany would make things easier in terms of boundaries and feeling strong in our parenting roles, but now I feel kind of sad that he doesn’t get to see three kids more. I think in the abstract, it is easy to see other ‘claims’ to your kids as a threat, but when the kids exist and you are parenting them, they are so clearly yours and so loved that having more people invested in them feels like a good idea. At least, that has been my experience. So glad for your family that you KD and his family are part of your life – and a little jealous! 😜

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    • You’re totally bang on about seeing it differently in “the abstract” versus after you’ve felt that familial bond with your kid.
      How often does your kd get to see the kids? Does he visit?

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      • We met up with him in NZ a year ago (so he has met J, though not M) but he hasn’t been over to visit, though we’ve invited him many times. I know he’d like it if we were all geographically closer, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Hoping that we’ll meet up in NZ again next year…

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  3. Gosh, that’s so much to contemplate. I agree that Avery will have mannerisms and other characteristics of both of her moms too (not just donor and birth mom). I have a mole above the right side of my top lip and my step- daughter has a small freckle on her face in the same place! I tell her it’s my contribution to her DNA. 🙂

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  4. This is heartening to read, and interesting as well. We almost went the known donor route, but it just didn’t end up working out. Now sometimes I wonder what it would be like, as well as what it’ll be like when our daughter turns 18 and can find out more about her donor.

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  5. Thanks for sharing! I am going to be using an unknown donor and I worry that future child (if everything works out) will want more information than she or he is every able to get. It’s nice that you have a comfortable relationship that is working out.

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